Jollyboys Adventure Group. Lumphat to Krong Saen Monourom via 11km of the HCMT

Sabian

Member
Joined
Aug 23, 2018
Location
Saraburi
Bikes
Honda wave efi, Honda shadow ACE
Well this ride started out from Ban Lung with a nice sunny, slightly breezy day. All felt good but by the end of the day it was by far the hardest day the group had ever endured so far. The road is nice and scenic with clear views of Vietnam to your left in the distance and large areas still suffering the effects of defoliation from agent orange.
As you approach Lumphat, which is now a tiny village along the NR76 its hard to believe it was once the capital city of the province and what is left of it rots beneath the greenery as you ride by. A good indication is the huge amounts of bumps and lumps in the terrain as you ride by in amongst the scorched trees and black craters full of stagnant water.
Just before the now village of Lumphat you will come across the decaying building of its once proud provincial high school and associated buildings along with a pagoda containing the mounting stone on which once had the proud bust of the king adorning it. Sadly recently removed or stolen . All around the school it is littered with bomblet. mines and UXOs so be careful where you step. The departure of the recent Chinese roads builders has left an embankment which you can safely follow and view the old school. A good bench mark of these places is if there's a lot of vegetation around it means no one goes in there, either man or mammal for a good reason.....its not safe!

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Built by the Chinese road navvies.

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Our stop for a drink in Lumphat was probably the most unwelcome we felt, so we didn't hang around to make pleasant conversation.
So on to a battle field I had researched before and was hoping there was still something around to see. Short version is the American's assaulted up a hill unknowing that there was a large VC position dug in on top with buildings in the rear, some of the building still showing the scars and again more ordnance on the ground.

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Finally were approaching Krong Saen Monourom, only about 13kms out and willing to try part of the Ho Chi Minh Trail not well documented or possibly explored for years. I found this researching old Vietnam documents and air photos giving me the area. After I managed to overlay the original map onto the modern map you could clearly see the route, bomb craters and a bit further down the site of a helicopter LZ that had a fierce firefight killing over 80VC and Chinese advisors. However they were buried nearby and very possibly under a house that now lies on that location!

The ride in for about 3km was ok then it just got worse and worse. The pictures will tell the story, we had to man handle bikes out of holes full of mud down to the seat. My Givi rack snapped off from the battering it got. Brake pedals were bent around, footpegs lost. mirrors smashed. Panniers ripped off, I could go on! It was incredibly hard and then of course it started raining. I knew there was a small river across the trail and we forded this quite easily, however there were another two smaller rivers further in which were crossed without hassle.
The terrain gradually started climbing and soon it was obvious that this was usually a watercourse and the path become covered in rocks and boulders with some nastly drops if you missed the right route. At times the path virtually disappeared and sticking to my gps trace it kept reappearing for us to follow. However at this point some of the group were starting to suffer from too many falls and I considered stopping and making camp and continuing in the morning but the group wanted to continue and get out of the trail. So continue we did and it got harder and harder until we began to spread out making safety now a real issue. Luckily for us some loggers came past and offered their assistance for two of the guys suffering exhaustion and some injuries. So.....we followed them, now its dark and the trail is no easier and everyone is shattered but too their credit no one gave up and helped everyone along with pushing bikes out and carting kit. My gps showed the route was on course and finally to my relief I saw the distance move from Km to 900mtrs. I knew the end was in sight. So finally we got out of the trail and followed the loggers to the town of which they were quite reluctant due the type of logging they were involved with. However these two guys took us to the their wooden hut whilst we on the trail and gave us more water and were extremely helpful. So a quick whip round and they both left with a good few dollars for their troubles. A bit more on the loggers after the pictures. It took 7 hours to cover 11kms.

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Me scouting the route ahead not knowing it was going to get much worse.

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Robert walking back to retrieve his foot pegs, only to lose them again further in.

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One of the smaller rivers we had to cross on the way through.

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This is how it was until there was more water, then it was just horrendous.

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A great picture showing just how physically hard it was. Robert taking a well earned break from helping people up the trail. Neil nursing his fall and shin burn from a hot exhaust.

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Me moving kit around after my Givi rack had sheered off.

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Better get this picture right....Arthur crossing the river on his Honda Wave 125i. It was very clear and the fish swam around your feet. Should of stopped the night here.

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At times the track virtually disappeared but the trusty gps was always right.

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Incredibly hard climbing due to the depth of the ruts. Robert helping Arthur through a difficult stretch.

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How we looked as we arrived at the hotel in Krong Saen Monourom. Amazingly these small bikes never gave up the ghost and got us out of some very deep holes and just kept pushing on to the end.

Next day it was in to the town but during breakfast news of our exploits had already got around and we were approached by two Cambodian military personnel who wanted to shake our hands and give us beer and explain no-one goes into where we had been for several reasons. 1. Its home to many illegal loggers, 2. its very inhospitable terrain, 3. they believe between 15 and 25000 people were killed and lie buried up there along the route in places unknown and locals are very superstitious about spirits etc. Anyway we thanked them and had a quick drink with them telling them how wild it was up there.... So next out and get the bikes repaired and take a day to chill and recover from the ordeal.

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The bikes washed and repairs completed before lunch, impressive.

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The local cinema which plays just Thai soaps. It was at this point we encountered two strange looking individuals wearing hats that could only be described as sombreros. A quick check and it was our two helpers incognito with their money from last night giving their families a hair cut and buying the things they needed. It was good to see them and thank them for their help.....covertly.

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Removals Cambodian style.

So this part of tale is finished, would we go back along the trail…….maybe.

Anyone want any info on anything Ive put on the last couple of days just contact me here or the group on facebook. Thank from me to Bob for sorting out my gps maps before we left and info.

and the group:

Neil. the group mechanic
Robert. our translator
Arthur. for the cleanest washing
Chris. what a guy!
Ramon. Chef
Dominic. eternal optimist
Richard. undying enthusiasm
 
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bsacbob

Administrator
Staff member
Joined
Jul 1, 2012
Location
Chiang Rai
Bikes
Honda CRM-AR 250, Honda CRF 250-L, Suzuki V Strom XT 650 Honda xr250 Baja
Fantastic stuff Lumphat, looks a very interesting area indeed, it is amazing for such a flat country how challenging the terrain can be, congratulations on the HCMT section.

Any gpx files you can offer on that days riding ?
 

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